French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley is the first of two books based on my diaries from 1979 and 1980. Twenty-one-year-old Linda Kovic needs to learn a language fast in order to fulfill her dream of becoming a flight attendant, so she contracts to become an au pair for a wealthy family in the Loire Valley. In order to secure the nanny position, she lies on her application and pretends to speak French, confident she'll be forgiven once she arrives at her destination. This book captures Linda's real-life story inside and outside the Chateau de Montclair, detailing her challenges and triumphs as she tries to adjust to her new life with the hard-to-please Madame Dubois, her husband, and their two incomprehensible children. When Linda attends language classes at a local university, she encounters, Adam, a handsome young student, and her life with the family becomes more complicated, adding fuel to her internal battle for independence. Join Linda on her adventure of discovery and romance in an extraordinary part of the world.
©2012 Linda Kovic-Skow (P)2016 Linda Kovic-Skow
I have listened to only two audio books, both of which are of excellent quality.
This story is told skilfully, honestly and without pretensions by the author, and is beautifully delivered by the reader.
I liked Lucy's portrayal of Linda, although her Madame Dubois was suitably stern and forbidding.
No, I didn't feel compelled to spend one whole day doing nothing else but listening to Linda's book, although my answer should not be taken as a comment on the quality or delivery of the story.
It has been a pleasure listening to the style, so easy on the ears. I will listen to this again another time.
The idea was to have something to listen to while I did decorating. In the end I just sat and soaked up the story. Terrific narrator, who had all the relevant accents nailed and also spoke French. She didn’t just read the book she dramatised the story which put the listener smack bang in the middle of it all.
Linda applied for the job as an Au Pair with a French family in the Loire Valley. Linda lied in her application. Applicants were required to be able to speak French. Linda didn’t.
She imagined, as a guileless twenty one year old, that all would be forgiven when she arrived from the USA at her new employers’ chateau. It wasn’t. The relationship between Linda and Madame Dubois never recovered from that first ‘tense’ encounter, probably not helped by the fact that Monsieur Dubois remained amenable throughout. I personally felt that the very pregnant Madame was feeling a little vulnerable. I started off having more sympathy with Madame Dubois than with Linda but as the story unfolded I could see how exposed young girls, who take up these types of jobs, can be. With little or no knowledge of the language, poorly paid with few rights and less means of being able to extricate yourself from the situation or return home, it was easy to see how these girls can become exploited. Linda was made of sterner stuff and when her love interest, Adam, comes onto the scene to complicate matters, events escalate. A highly recommended Audible story.
A wonderful rendition of a splendidly written memoir. A veritable feast for the ears. The contrast between French and American accents and the French dialogue made this book come alive. Thank you Linda and Lucy.
I confess to having read the paperback version of this book some while ago. Having really enjoyed it, I wanted to broaden my range by listening to some audio books. I chose this one, and was not disappointed. The author as a young girl gets a position with a French family although she cannot speak the lingo. Her trials and tribulations, the ups and downs of her life with the Dubois family are laid bare in a light and witty style, making listening to the book a most pleasurable pastime as I reacquainted myself with the storyline and, for me, those glorious scenes set in the Loire valley; one of the regions of France that I know so well.If I had a slight criticism, it would be the fairly strong American accent of the narrator, which took some getting used to, but I suppose that is the main target audience. Great fun, nevertheless.
I loved the eBook version of this Memoir and loved this audio-version just as much - was great to 'hear' the memoir being narrated. I thought it was put together very well for all the folks that were part of the Author's life at that time...
Difficult to say, but, Madame Dubois was portrayed very well - as was the author herself - all of it really.
I have also read the book and I thought Lucy Floyd narrated the whole thing very well.
I just loved how the narrator read this book.
I'm really looking forward to listening to Linda Kovic-Skow's follow-up book. I have read that before too and I am sure Lucy Floyd will make an excellent job of that one too.
I enjoyed it all and Lucy Floyd really got the feeling and meaning across really well.
It was a delight to listen to. The narrator got the varying emotions across beautifully-she didn't just read it-she injected real meaning into the words.
I've read quite a few memoirs of people retiring and moving to Spain, Italy and Greece but this is something different. Linda tells of when she was twenty-one and working as a medical assistant for a family practice clinic in Seattle. Her real ambition was to be a flight attendant with an International Airline. The only stumbling block was that she needed to be able to speak another language. This is Linda's story of how she went to France to work as an Au Pair to try and 'drop herself in at the deep end' to learn the language as she went along.
She wasn't entirely honest with the Dubois family who she went to work for as she told them that she could already speak French. At first, on finding out her deception, they seemed quite tolerant and helped her to enrol in classes to learn the language. Gradually Madame Dubois asks more and more of Linda so that she gets to the point of wondering if she can cope with the job anymore.
Linda does quite an amount of cooking with Madame and there are some lovely descriptions of the foods in the book which evoke smells and taste. I really enjoyed this, it was nice easy listening with fairly short chapters. It's intriguing, you are kept guessing as Madame Dubois's behaviour is changeable, it must have been very confusing for the young Linda. There's a bit of romance in here too, a lovely varied read.
I really liked the audio version of this book. It was read very well. There was a nice tone to the narrator's voice. I could imagine her as Linda with her American accent. I am no expert but I thought her French accent was also excellent, not overdone, it was very natural. I've already enjoyed this book a couple of years ago in kindle format; it's good to hear it and experience it again from another angle. The narrator really made it come to life. I loved her French accent-both for the actual French, and when she was portraying Madame Dubois speaking English with a French accent. An excellent production.
"An Honest Tale"
Absolutely! It was well-written and had great details about life as an au pair in France.
I loved the honesty with which the author told her story. I'm glad she didn't sugar-coat the feelings she had for the "Madame" of the house. The woman who was her boss was just a horrible person to work for, but sometimes authors like to pardon bad behavior in a way that seems insincere. I was very happy that this author revealed her true feelings and let the reader draw his or her own conclusions. It felt very honest and very sincere.
She is an excellent reader and her French is impeccable! I am fluent in French and was impressed with her language skills and her ability to provide new intonation for each character.
I have just purchased Part 2 of this memoir and can't wait to get started!
Linda wants to be a flight attendant one problem, though, you need to be bi-lingual. What’s a girl, fluent only in English to do? Total immersion in French, her language of choice and what better way to do that then become an au pair for a French family… except Linda lies on her application stating that she’s well versed in French. Only the hubris of the young allows Linda to think she can persuade the family to take her in without some serious repercussions.
It’s very rare that someone can beat my stories of youthful guts (or naivety, take your choice). Linda Kovic-Skow does just that by flying halfway across the world to France, on a lie, and in a country where she doesn’t speak the language! Now that takes cojones!
French Illusions, is a wonderful and sometimes painful memoir about the trials and tribulations of life in a foreign land, but it’s also about the kindness strangers and willingness of others to help those in need.
Lucy Floyd is engaging as the narrator and does a wonderful job in this 9-hour audiobook. To be able to speak in both languages and have the average English listener follow along with no problem, is quite a feat.
I look forward to hearing the further adventures of this rogue adventurer.
This audiobook was gifted to me exchange for an unbiased review!
"A Charming Tale"
This was my first experience with an audio book and I really appreciated the narration by Lucy Floyd which brought the characters vividly to life. Since I don’t understand French, yet enjoy the musical sounds of the language, the audio element was a big plus. The drawback was finding time to listen to this lengthy tale. However, the intriguing story brought back precious memories for me of my own travels in Europe as a young person and of working as a nanny to an American family which proved well worth the effort.
"Interesting and kept my attention"
I am a lover of France and the French language. I enjoyed this audiobook partly because of the narrator speaking so much French in such an authentic accent and also because I have been that girl who tells a white lie to get what she wants and then ends up paying dearly. The story held my attention and I looked forward to listening to it each time I had time.
Adam was my favorite character. I know French men just like him.
Madam Debois with her nasty French attitude. I know French women like her.
"A Delightful Read"
At first I couldn't quite figure out why I loved this book. My husband asked how it was and I replied, Great! then he asked why and I couldn't come up with the right words. I mean it has a good story and good writing but that's all generic. Then while listening to a friend I realized why I enjoyed this book so much. The entire book, from beginning to end, felt like I was listening to a dear friend tell me all about their adventure. it was familiar yet new, comforting and intriguing all at the same time. I loved it.
"A young girl's experience as an au-pair in France."
"French Illusions" is the delightful story of Linda who dreams of learning French during her au-pair year in the Loire Valley in France. Her stay with an aristocratic family in a real French chateau does not turn out quite as she expected. I enjoyed Linda's description of the French Loire Valley and its historic towns, her culinary experiences and of course, as it is France, romance also comes into it. The narrator Lucy Floyd beautifully brings the story to life. Anyone who enjoys speaking and learning French will benefit from the tidbits of French scattered throughout the story.
"Living in France without speaking the language"
I was offered a copy of this book in audio format from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Linda Kovic has great expectations, she wants a more exciting life than the one she has, so she decides to apply for a job to become a flight attendant. There is just one problem: she needs to be fluent in a second language, which she is not. To remediate this she takes an au pair job in France... saying that she speaks the language. Her lie will not help her at her stay at the Dubois' and things turn out much more difficult than she expected.
I was very curious about this book since I also lived abroad for some years, in a country where I also did not speak the language(s). Apart from being a new experience and being completely alone, which makes things hard, the fact of not speaking the language can be disheartening sometimes, and some people are not as hospitable as one may think.
It is difficult to review this book without judging Linda. She was very young, and at that age everybody makes wrong decisions, expecting things to come out right. Life teaches you to think twice next time. Nevertheless she was also very unlucky with the family she met, having to act like a servant, more than an au pair. And off course she was in clear disadvantage, not speaking the language and feeling that they were doing her a favor for accepting her in that situation.
Now, talking about the book, the style was poor, with repeated expressions here and there. Very often we were given a sentence in French and then the translation to English. The French was very basic and I I think everyone with a basic level of French could understand it, so it felt a bit reiterative. I think the cleanest thing would have been just offering the sentences in English or mentioning that Linda did not understand something. I felt that the book was written like one would write a diary, without polishing the edges. It was entertaining enough and I wanted to see what happened in the end. We are left with a cliffhanger, which feels kind of cheating, but I understand that the second story will be a lot different, and this may justify separating them in two books.
Despite being this a real story, we know very little about Linda and the rest of the characters. They do not completely feel real and all the story feels flat and skimming the surface. They were real friends to her, but why? I expected more from it but it felt a bit superficial. The beginning is a series of anecdotes with the family, but there was a lack of continuity or purpose.
Something I missed were more temporal references. It is not clear to me how long Linda was expected to work at the Dubois' and how long she actually stayed. This made the book feel a bit disjointed.
Lucy Floyd did a wonderful job narrating this story. Her pronunciation in French was very good and the French accent when speaking English was very realistic. She portrayed well the main character and gave different touches to every character.
Despite the issues I explained, I enjoyed the story, and knowing that they were events happening to a real person makes you want to see how things turn out in the end.
"Audio brings the story to life"
I have already read both books in the pair and I love the story of personal growth through very difficult circumstances. It is also a very different kind of love story.
It is a real glimpse into the mind of a 21-year-old women in 1980, far from home.
Lucy is brilliant with voices and bringing nuanced emotions out of the characters.
I love the interactions between Linda and the children.
Whispersync is great for this book. I get to see the snippets of written french and hear the pronunciation.
"Great story remarkable narration"
The narrator's wonderful ability to use different voices within the story.
Linda and Madame Dubois, Linda being so honest and direct in her story and Madame was the antithesis of Linda.
Superb job! She was able to differentiate characters and it was easy to discriminate voices while listening.
The end of the story was a total surprise!
I am looking forward to listening to book number two and hearing Lucy again!
"An interesting window into the life of an au pair"
As someone who always wished I had spent an extended time overseas during my college years, I found this book interesting. I have always been interested in French culture and learning different languages, so it was interesting to see how someone with little-to-no background in a language can pick it up when immersed in another country. It was interesting to see what was required in an au pair position, and its position within a family.
I listened to the Audible audio version of this book narrated by Lucy Floyd, and I enjoyed her narration. She did a really good job giving a unique voice to each character, and she did really good with the French accents and language.
This was an enjoyable book and I think anyone who is interested in a different culture would enjoy it.
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